The Dancing Puritan

Monday, January 12, 2015

Beauty



Do you have a category for beauty in your philosophy of life; or do you see life primarily through utilitarian eyes? If you are a teenage boy then you might see food as something to be consumed as quickly as possible so that you can get ready for the next adventure. If so, then you are not thinking much about the beauty of food. You have a utilitarian view of food. Did you know that food is for smelling, tasting, appreciating, and describing? Food and eating do have utilitarian purposes but they are also about beauty.

You should care about beauty. Think about it? When you read a great book, what makes it great? Do you read primarily for entertainment? Do you read so that you can learn? Perhaps you read because someone is requiring you to read (parent, college professor).  All of the above are legitimate reasons to read. However, do you ever read a book and say when you are done, "That was a beautiful book." You can ask the same question of music, food, or even of your spouse.

What about love and marriage? How do you think about your spouse? Do you ever notice their beauty? Do you ever ask beautiful questions about them?

Think of your husband's lips. What are they for? Well, we need lips to talk correctly. We need lips to help us to eat. We need lips to properly use a straw. Tap into your romantic self for a minute and think a bit deeper.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. (Song of Solomon 1:2).
Do you see it? Lips are for kissing! That is why God gave lips (one beautiful reason, at least).

Think about your husband's smell when he is all cleaned up and has splashed his face with aftershave and cologne. What is aftershave and cologne for anyway? To cover up odor? Because that's just what men do?
Your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out (3).
Your husband smells good so that you can savor his aroma!

Husband, have you noticed your wife's perfume lately? What's the purpose of perfume? Again, a utilitarian purpose, especially in some cultures and climates, may be to cover up unpleasant odor. However, perfume has a more sacred purpose.

While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi. (12-14)
Have you ever said to your wife, "You smell beautiful?" Have you ever considered that one reason (probably the primary reason) that she wears perfume is for you? Aha, that is a beautiful thought.

What about communication? What is its purpose? Perhaps you are the pragmatic utilitarian when it comes to speech. You talk so that things will be accomplished. One of the reasons that God gave beauty is so that it can be described with pen and lips.

Behold you are beautiful, my love; behold you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful (15-17).

Yep, you got it. One of the purposes of beauty is for poetry and song. We admire true beauty but admiration alone does not properly do justice to beauty. Real beauty must be described. Real beauty calls us to see the truth behind the facts and to talk about it. Real beauty demands a poem and a song.

My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in mild, sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. his mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend. (5:10-16). 

Think about beauty. Write about beauty! Look beyond the utilitarian value of your spouse and see and sing about his/her beauty.

God is glorified when we use our lips for eating and when we use them for kissing and for singing.

Ray Rhodes is the president of Nourished in the Word Ministries. Ray is married to Lori and he leads marriage retreats, Bible conferences, and other events.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Simple Pathway to Happiness

Are you on the pathway to true happiness? Biblical happiness is described by the word "blessed." (Psalm 1:1, Matthew 5:1-11) It is a happiness that is not much dependent on circumstances:
 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Sometimes the road to happiness takes you through the city of persecution. The last waters that many of us want to be swimming in are troubled waters. We don't often have the mindset of the apostle Paul who wrote, "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake." (Colossians 1:24) His joy was not dependent on the removal of suffering. In the midst of trials, he rejoiced.

Understanding that happiness is not dependent on the absence of conflict, what are some ways that we can keep our hearts happy in God in times of ease or trouble?

Meditation

I am not referring to the sort of empty-your-mind meditation that requires pretzel-like-positioning. What I am referencing is biblical meditation such as described by David. The blessed man is one who "delights in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2) Meditation requires reading and internalizing the Bible and then purposefully recalling and thinking about God's Word "day and night."Meditating on Scripture does not mean that Scripture is all that you read and think about. It does mean that you can readily recall Scripture for immediate application.

Point of Application

Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, used HWLW (His Word, the Last Word) as a reminder to close out every day with Scripture. Consider HWFW (His Word, the First Word) and HWCW (His Word, the Constant Word) as well. Begin your day with Scripture (HWFW). Write down one verse on a note card and carry it with you. Refer to that card throughout the day (HWCW), and close your day with that verse (HWLW).

Music

How many hymns are on your play list? Take a look. How long did it take? It is hip in Christian circles to have an open mind about music. If you don't listen to Cash then you are not much of a thinking Christian, right? I get that and my play list includes a variety-pack of music and musicians. David said of God, He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Man will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:3) Would you say that your music is of such a nature that other people could be led to trust God through your songs? The glad, joyful, and happy person comes before the Lord "with singing." (Psalm 100:2) Give it a try. Make music and singing a part of your healthy spiritual diet.

Point of Application

Purchase a copy (or several copies) of the hymnbook that your church uses. Sing hymns during family devotion times. Consider purchasing music from Sovereign Grace Music (www.sovereigngracemusic.org), Keith and Kristyn Getty (www.gettymusic.com), or (www.fernandoortega.com) for your digital player. Listen throughout the day.

Message

The happy person is one who does not "walk in the counsel of the wicked." (Psalm 1:1) I am convinced that much of the misery of miserable people is the fruit of listening to the wrong message. The godly person finds his "delight in the law of the LORD." (2)  Hearing godly counsel includes putting yourself in the pathway of biblical preaching. When the word is proclaimed there is instruction, exhortation, correction, and training (2 Timothy 4:1-3). It is essential that you regularly attend the preaching of the word at a God-centered church. It should be very rare that you miss the Lord's Day worship services.

Point of Application

In addition to being a member of a godly church where you hear preaching regularly, discipline yourself to listen to two or three sermons from the Internet each week. You can download sermons by John MacArthur, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and many others. Perhaps your daily commute is long enough to listen to a sermon a day. Remember the happy person is the one who listens to godly counsel.

Meeting

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) Greg Spraul, in an article on the 9marks website  writes of meeting with at least one person each day to either disciple, be discipled, or to share the gospel. We are not created to be hermits. Though we must regularly withdraw from people for prayer and study, we must develop deliberate relationships. Happiness is at stake. "Two are better than one." Ecclesiastes 4:9

Point of Application

Think of and contact a person to have a cup of coffee with this week and consider ways that you can be an encouragement to them in a discipleship way (perhaps you could read a book of the Bible together and discuss). Think of another person that you could benefit from spiritually. Set an appointment and make a list of questions for discussion. Be discipled. Think of another person that you know who needs the gospel and set up a time to share Christ with them.

Do you want to be happy? A simple pathway to happiness includes meditation, music, message, and meeting. Enjoy the journey.